According to the Red Cross, numerous states across the U.S. are reporting cases of measles, a viral infection which was thought to have been eliminated in 2000. This is a very troubling development for parents worried about their children being exposed to what remains a serious and sometimes life-threatening illness. The following information explains why the outbreak is happening and why receiving the measles vaccine is more important than ever.
Reasons for the Recent Measles Outbreak
There are two components to the recent measles outbreak. Because the disease is still common in some places outside of the U.S., it’s possible for travelers without proper immunization to be exposed to the illness and bring it back to this country on their return. The second factor is the recent swell in the anti-vaccination movement, which means that more people are vulnerable to the illness now than have been in the past.
Although there are mandatory vaccination requirements already in place, it is possible to opt out. This can be due to a medical reason, as people with certain diseases or medical conditions can’t receive vaccinations.
You can also be exempt if you express certain religious or moral beliefs. Many people in the anti-vaccination movement fall into this category. Not only does this put their families in danger; it also threatens the safety net of herd immunity — if even one individual in a group contracts measles due to a lack of proper precautions, they run the risk of infecting the others in the group and unraveling the effects of vaccination efforts.
What Parents Should Know About the Measles Vaccine
The Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine is extremely safe and effective. The majority of people who receive this vaccine don’t experience serious side effects. Minor side effects, such as soreness at the injection site and fever, are more common and typically resolve on their own. It’s possible to be allergic to the MMR vaccine, but this is very rare. Your doctor will take steps to determine any allergies before administering the shot. Studies by multiple agencies have found no link between the MMR vaccine — or any other vaccines — and autism.
Any child between 12 and 15 months of age is old enough for their first dose of the MMR vaccine. Younger children who are at least 6 months of age may be eligible to receive the vaccine under certain circumstances, such as a local outbreak. If your child is younger than 6 months, take extra precautions — such as washing hands, disinfecting surfaces, and feeding your child breastmilk — to protect them.
If you have questions about the measles vaccine, HealthSmartVaccines in Chantilly, VA, will gladly provide answers. They keep abreast of the latest guidelines regarding vaccinations and immunizations and can even help you prepare before any upcoming trips abroad. Visit them online for a full listing of immunization services. You can also call (703) 961-0733 for more information.